I was always drawn to the Hebrew letters, as an undergraduate, my supervisor gave me a neckless with the Hebrew Letters חי or life. Seeing my neckless my major Professor, Robert Goldstein who was Jewish asked if I was Jewish? I explained that my grandmother taught us that African Americans were descendants of the Israelites so, I considered myself Jewish. In addition to being an intellectual giant, Goldstein was humanistic, full of compassion, and pious. He subsequently taught me to say the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy; the first paragraph of the Shema in Hebrew; that was in 1977 and I have recited it daily ever since. The spiritual benefits of daily recitation are multifarious and innumerable to articulate. Suffice it however to say that recitation of the Shema leads to spiritual enlightenment. This is the dawn of the new day in which all of the children of God are given the spiritual technologies that elevate their awareness to the pinnacle of God-consciousness. The intention of this article is to introduce the first two paragraphs of The Shema. Going forward, the Shema is the quintessential spiritual technology of redemption; it structures higher vistas and opens new spiritual possibilities.
The first two paragraphs of the Shema are found in Deuteronomy 6:4–9. It is after Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery, they are standing at the base of mount-Sinai poised to become a holy Nation and The God of Israel is speaking in “Lashon Ha Kodesh”; the holy tongue. The Hebrew word, שְׁמַע (“Shema”) in this context means to hear and accept the absolute sovereignty of God. By declaring that God is One, unique, and indivisible, we subordinate our being to his will. The Hebrew Letters are the protoplasm of the universe, as each letter is an impulse of divine light and each letter has a mathematical equivalent. In Zephaniah3:9 Ha Shem promises to bequeath the holy tongue to his people for the purpose of empowerment and praise. The goal of human evolution is oneness with God and the realization that God is the one singular source of creation. The grand theme of nature’s diversity is but a display of infinite divine intelligence. In this first two paragraphs of the Shema, Ha Shem makes it pristinely clear that He is One, unique and indivisible; not two or three; but One! Moreover, He is to be loved with all of one’s resources. The wisdom inherent in the Shema is intended to be a source of eternal life for the both mind and body of his people. Pronunciation, study, and interaction with Lashon Ha Kodesh are a source of life and health (Proverbs 4:22).
THE FIRST PARAGRAPH OF SHEMA
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד
Sh’ma Yisra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad –Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
(In an undertone)
Barukh sheim k’vod malkhuto l’olam va’ed. Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom
forever and ever.
THE SECOND PARAGRAPH
וְאָ֣הַבְתָּ֔ אֵ֖ת יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֥ וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁךָ֖ וּבְכָל־מְאֹדֶֽך
וְהָי֞וּ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֨ר אָנֹכִ֧י מְצַוְּךָ֛ הַיּ֖וֹם עַל־לְבָבֶֽךָ
וְשִׁנַּנְתָּ֣ם לְבָנֶ֔יךָ וְדִבַּרְתָּ֖ בָּ֑ם בְּשִׁבְתְּךָ֤ בְּבֵיתֶ֙ךָ֙ וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ֣ בַדֶּ֔רֶךְ וּֽבְשָׁכְבְּךָ֖ וּבְקוּמֶֽךָ
וּקְשַׁרְתָּ֥ם לְא֖וֹת עַל־יָדֶ֑ךָ וְהָי֥וּ לְטֹטָפֹ֖ת בֵּ֥ין עֵינֶֽיךָ
וּכְתַבְתָּ֛ם עַל־מְזוּזֹ֥ת בֵּיתֶ֖ךָ וּבִשְׁעָרֶֽיךָ
V’ahav’ta eit Adonai Elohekha. And you shall love the Lord your God
b’khol l’vav’kha uv’khol naf’sh’kha.
with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your might
V’hayu had’varim ha’eileh
And it shall be that these words
asher anokhi m’tzav’kha hayom
that I command you today
[shall be] in your heart
And you shall teach them diligently to your children
and you shall speak of them
when you sit at home
and when you walk along the way
and when you lie down and when you rise up.
Uk’shar’tam l’ot al yadekha.
And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand
v’hayu l’totafot bein einekha.
and they shall be for totafot between your eyes
And you shall write them
al m’zuzot beitekha uvish’arekha
on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
The Shema should be recited aloud so that one can hear what one says. The daily recitation of the Shema will initiate an immediate perception of the deeper, and absolute reality. Recitation of The Shema awakens God-consciousness; which is the all-time awareness of one’s authentic spiritual-SELF that lies outside the field of activity. Recitation of the Shema winnows away the artificial dichotomy that exists between yourself and your neighbor making it possible to, “love thy neighbor as they self”.
Dr. Yisrael offers individualized Hebrew instruction in the Aleph-Bet and teaches the correct pronunciation of The Shema. Interested parties should leave their contact information below.